epa Photo Essays 2018

 Lobster fisherman Chipper Zeiner returns a female lobster pulled from one of his traps off the coast of Kennebunk, Maine, USA, 27 June 2018. Females with eggs are returned to the water after being marked with a 'V' notch in the right tail flipper and can never be kept. One female can produce six million eggs and can also store captured sperm from a male for two years. The American lobster has been surviving in the Atlantic Ocean for some 140 million years. Native Americans used to use them as bait and fertilizer for their crops, and in colonial times, they were considered to be poor man’s food; nourishment for indentured servants and prisoners. They are now part of a valuable commercial fishing industry that, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources, netted over 69.7 million pounds (31.6 million kilograms) at a price of over 244 million US dollars (208.7 million euros) in 2008 alone. The recent trade war that the Trump Administration has started with China, imposing tariffs on imported goods, has backfired on the Maine Lobster industry. China has imposed a 25 percent tariff on US lobsters, as well as other US goods in response. China in recent years has been a boom for the lobster fishermen, but now they are left scrambling to find other buyers. EPA-EFE/CJ GUNTHER

Lobster Fishing off the Kennebunk Coast

The American lobster has been surviving in the Atlantic Ocean for some 140 million years. Native Americans used to use them as bait and fertilizer for their crops, and in colonial times, they were considered to be poor man’s food. They are now part of a valuable commercial fishing industry. In 1973, 11-year-old Chipper Zeiner rowed out into the waters off of Cape Porpoise, Maine and started “hauling” lobster traps. Today, Chipper has about 600 pots off the coast of Maine. He heads out at 6 am six days a week, hauling about 200 each day. He hauls the pots in four-day rotations, one at a time, checking the catch, releasing the shorts, eggers and longs, then re-baits and moves onto the next one. 

 

 

 

A small 460gm pademelon or small wallaby named Tre, in a pouch and cared for by a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator in Kayena, Tasmania, Australia, 13 April 2018. She was found clinging onto her dead mother lying on the edge of a road after she was hit and killed by a car. The pademelon is unable to survive in the wild at this age but will be released back into the wild at about 2.5 kg weight. Killed and maimed native animals litter the roadsides of Australia's southern state of Tasmania. It records among the highest rates of roadkill in the world with between 377,000 and 1.5 million animals killed per year. Research indicates if drivers would slow down, and official speed limits lowered at dusk and dawn in high density wildlife areas, tens of thousands of native animals would be saved. EPA-EFE/BARBARA WALTON

Tasmania - The Native Animal Roadkill State

Killed and maimed native animals litter the roadsides of Tasmania. Small broken bodies stain the sides of roadways crossing the otherwise beautiful natural island. The state is the deadliest for wildlife per capita than anywhere else in the world, with estimates of 377,000 to up to 1.5 million native animals killed each year on its roads. These deaths are known as roadkill. Their by-products are hundreds of thousands of injured and orphaned native animals. Many suffer a painful and lingering death on the verge of a road, unattended. The young marsupials left in or thrown outside the pouch of their killed mother can take up to five days to die of slow starvation or scavenger attack, as many motorists move on after hitting a wild animal and do not stop to check and save a life.

 

 

 

Young boys sit on a stand and watch rugby being played during a grassroots schools rugby training session in the Katlehong township south of Johannesburg, South Africa, 05 June 2018. The training session was organized by the VUKA Rugby initiative which is a sustainable rugby program developed by SARU and aimed at the evolvement and promotion of rugby in disadvantaged communities and areas where it is not being played. Sporting history was made on 09 June 2018 when South Africa's first black national rugby team captain, Siyi Kolisi, ran onto the field at the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg to lead the now multi-racial 'Springbok' team against England. The national Springbok rugby team was for decades the preserve of white, mainly Afrikaner, sporting culture and as such was during the apartheid years a team that only included white players and coaches and became the very public face of racial segregation. After 127 years and 478 matches played by the national team with 60 white captains, Siyi Kolisi ran onto the field to change history forever. EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK

South Africa First Rugby Black Captain

Sporting history was made on 09 June 2018 when South Africa's first black national rugby team captain, Siyi Kolisi, ran onto the field at the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg to lead the now multi-racial 'Springbok' team against England. The national Springbok rugby team was for decades the preserve of white, mainly Afrikaner, sporting culture and as such was during the apartheid years a team that only included white players and coaches and became the very public face of racial segregation. After 127 years and 478 matches played by the national team with 60 white captains, Siyi Kolisi ran onto the field to change history forever. 

 

 

 

Lyle Goodman closes the door on a former US Army munitions bunkers, which a developer is repurposing into a doomsday community for civilians called Vivos xPoint, near Edgemont, South Dakota, USA, 08 May 2018. Vivos estimates that its 575 bunkers can hold 5,000 people, making it 'the largest survival community on earth.' Bunker prices start at 25,000 US dollars (21,000 euros) for a 99-year lease. EPA-EFE/JIM LO SCALZO

Two Minutes to Midnight

As US President Donald J. Trump bets that his newly formed "terrific relationship" with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un will avert a nuclear showdown, American officials continue to plan for a darker scenario: keeping the US government functioning in the wake of Armageddon. Though American officials keep the details of the country's post-doomsday planning classified, evidence of their decades-long efforts are hidden in plain sight around Washington, DC, and beyond. For the first time in decades, all that preparation may seem prescient. In January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the so-called "Doomsday Clock" to two minutes before midnight. It’s the closest the clock has been to midnight since 1953.

 

 

 

A photo of the 19 year old farmer Mukesh Yadav, who committed suicide by consuming pesticide, hangs on the wall of his residence in Lachur village in Sehore Madhya Pradesh, India, 19 May 2018. Mukesh Yadav committed suicide 15 May 2017. In a year plagued by drought, farmers have limited production possibilities and are left with little to sell. When rains are plentiful, farmers end up with excess production, and with a lack of storage facilities, some are forced into selling their goods at low prices. The precarious nature of farming is one of the reasons why youths in rural areas are turning away from the sector; they say it is no longer profitable. The rising costs of seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers have pushed peasant farmers into mounting debts, leading thousands of them to commit suicide. According to data from the National Crime Records Bureau, 8,007 farmers or cultivators committed suicide in 2015, with bankruptcy or indebtedness the main cause of farmer suicide that year. EPA-EFE/HARISH TYAGI

Farmers Suicide Crisis in India

About 70 percent of India's rural population relies on agriculture to earn a living, but with droughts and monsoon rains threatening crops one way or the other, farmers are feeling the strain. The rising costs of seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers have pushed peasant farmers into mounting debts, leading thousands of them to commit suicide. According to data from the National Crime Records Bureau, 8,007 farmers or cultivators committed suicide in 2015, with bankruptcy or indebtedness the main cause of farmer suicide that year. The country's Ministry of Home Affairs points to a range of causes of suicide among farmers, including the inability to pay back loans, rising debts, poor procurement rates of crops, government policies and crop failure due to monsoons.

 

 

 

A worker stitches footballs during the final stages of their production at a manufacturing unit of Nivia, a leading manufacturer of sports equipment, footwear and accessories for core sports, in India, at Jalandhar, India, 02 June 2018. Jalandhar's sports industry is one of the biggest manufacturing hub in India with around 100 manufacturing units of football in the city. According to the manufacturers, the domestic supply for footballs and accessories related to it increased ahead of the FIFA World Cup as the football fever grips the youngsters and children. EPA-EFE/RAMINDER PAL SINGH

Football Manufacturing in Jalandhar

Raj Kumar sat at his roadside repair shop in Jalandhar, the sound of pneumatic drills and passing cars and motorbikes threatening to drown out the music playing over the radio as he stitched up one of several soccer balls that were strewn over his wooden table. Kumar has been faced with a recent uptick in business as local children take up the sport ahead of the FIFA World Cup, bringing their footballs for a quick and affordable fix-up. During much of the year in this cricket-obsessed nation, he is repairing cricket bats and pads. With the World Cup due to start, Kumar has been landed with a pile of deflated and beaten up soccer balls, many of which look beyond salvage, and which litter his shop’s store cupboard. Jalandhar’s sports industry is one of the biggest manufacturing hub in India with around 100 sports goods production plants in the city.

 

 

 

The shadow of the world's tallest completed building, the Burj Khalifa falls on the ground as seen from the 112th floor in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 11 April 2018. The megatall Burj Khalifa was completed in 2010 and is 828 meters tall and has 163 floors. The sky is the limit when it comes to tall buildings, which has sparked a worldwide race between nations to construct ever higher. EPA-EFE/ALI HAIDER

Race to Be the Tallest

The sky is the limit when it comes to tall buildings, which has sparked a worldwide race between nations to construct ever higher. But how high can humankind build? Building sites vibrate with sound, workers wield materials into shape and location, as construction forges ever upwards. When finished, these new towering skyscrapers are predicted to topple existing world record holders. The goal in the race to be the tallest is to scrape higher into the sky and awe those on the ground with towering but purposeful constructions. Currently, the world’s tallest building is the sky-piercing Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE, with its 828 meters. The Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, when finished, will take the crown as it rises 167 floors and a full kilometer high into the sky. 

 

 

 

Indian students practice various postures of Pole Mallakhamba, during the training session at Shree Samarth Vyayam Mandir in Mumbai, India, 27 April 2018. Mallakhamba arose in the western state of Maharashtra centuries ago. It was originally practiced by wrestlers and soldiers as a strength training exercise. ‘Malla’ means “wrestler” and ‘khamb’ means “pole” in Marathi, though the term is the same in Kannada and Tamil. It is a sport of strength and power, which provides a complete exercise for the entire body in a short period of time. Mallakhamba requires the strength of wrestling and the flexibility of gymnastics and yoga, and practitioners must combine those elements to perform aerial yoga poses while gripping a vertical pole. EPA-EFE/DIVYAKANT SOLANKI

Mallakhamba

Near Mahim Bay in Mumbai sits a two-story building whose modest appearance betrays its notable heritage of athletics. More than 1,000 athletes of different sports who went on to become national champions have attended the Shree Samarth Vyayam Mandir physical education institution since it opened in 1925. The school is a training ground for traditional Indian sports like Mallakhamba, a discipline that combines aspects of wrestling, yoga and gymnastics. Mallakhamba arose in the western state of Maharashtra centuries ago. It was originally practiced by wrestlers and soldiers as a strength training exercise. 'Malla' means 'wrestler' and 'khamb' means 'pole' in Marathi. Mallakhamba requires the strength of wrestling and the flexibility of gymnastics and yoga, and practitioners must combine those elements to perform aerial yoga poses while gripping a vertical pole.

 

 

 

Unmarried 52 years old man Jaganath is seen in Shobha village Chhatarpur Bundelkhand, Madhya Pradesh, India 17 May 2018. Huge stretches of Madhya Pradesh, India’s largest state, is facing an acute water crisis as the state’s water reservoir has started drying up due to scant rainfall this season. The water shortage affects especially the Bundelkhand region, which is spread over 13 districts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The region has been reeling under an acute water shortage and the recent heat wave has caused forced migration out of the state. Without functioning hand pumps and bore wells villagers have no choice but to drink contaminated water. In the village of Choka in Rahatgarh per example, there are around 200 families but with only one working hand pump available, that is located outside the village. The villagers have to walk at least a kilometer or more to fetch water. In some villages like Kauriya, Jhabarpura, people fetch water from a distance of 1.5 km to 3 kilometers because there are no hand pumps or water wells. Many villagers from the area of Chhatarpur, Tikamgarh, Sagar also depend on open wells, whose water is not fit for human consumption as they are contaminated with dust and leaves. EPA-EFE/HARISH TYAGI

Madhya Pradesh Acute Water Crisis

Huge stretches of Madhya Pradesh, India’s largest state, is facing an acute water crisis as the state’s water reservoir has started drying up due to scant rainfall this season. The water shortage affects especially the Bundelkhand region, which is spread over 13 districts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Without functioning hand pumps and bore wells villagers have no choice but to drink contaminated water. Acute shortage of water has also triggered mass migration from villages like Charawal village of Sagar district and villages of Imlidhol Panchayat. Most rivers in the area have dried up and more than 2000 tube wells have no water because the water table has dropped in the village. Most of the young have left these villages in search of water and livelihood, leaving the elderly behind.

 

 

 

Thai crocodile wrangler, nicknamed Mr Max, 30, puts his head inside a crocodile's head at the Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo, outside Bangkok, Thailand, 30 March 2018. Max's work day is hands on with crocodiles, and involves putting his head inside the opened bone-crushing jaw of the crocodile for the benefit of visitors attending the daily crocodile shows. It is a dangerous job he has been doing for over ten years. Across Asia, billions of people head to work as the sun rises. A number of these occupations do not fall into the category of mainstream careers, instead they are deemed by some as peculiar professions. EPA-EFE/DIEGO AZUBEL

Peculiar Professions across Asia

Across Asia, billions of people head to work as the sun rises. Some of these occupations do not fall into the category of mainstream careers, instead they are deemed by some to be peculiar professions. A specialized cosmetic fish surgeon in Singapore, master nail weavers in Japan, and crocodile wranglers in Thailand, are among them. Sharia law enforcers whose job is to mete out punishment as determined by Sharia courts, including public canings, pull on identity covering black or brown head-to-toe robes in Aceh for their work, while Indonesian Living Statue artist Sadam Firman is among those to color himself in a head-to-toe uniform of silver as he acts out his role as a frozen independence hero.

 

 

 

An AI sex doll robot with a screen in a head on display at the Shenzhen Atall Intelligent Robot Technology show room in Guangzhou, Guandong Province, China, 29 March 2018. Shenzhen Atall Intelligent Robot Technology is one of China's leading companies for robots equipped with AI (artificial intelligence). Among the company’s various AI robot products, its best-selling is an AI sex robot named Emma. The multi-functional machine is linked to the internet and Android operating system and features high stimulation capabilities. Sex robots have soft and elastic skin made of modified thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) material, with less oil content and no smell. Its temperature adjustment is set to 37 C to resemble a human's. Safety issues are managed with anti-electric shock, anti-fire and anti-explosion measures. And the addition of body sensors help make sex robots feel more like a human. But a semblance of authenticity doesn't come cheap, and Emma's online retail price is about 20,000 RMB ($3,136) with most customers being men aged 40-50. Most clients are from Europe and the United States. There is also high interest for sex robots in the Middle East but importing them and sex toys into these countries is prohibited. It's a similar situation with Brazil, Chile and Argentina along with Russia and Philippines - where customs clearance for the robots is problematic. Male sex robots are also on the market but the sales volume is nine times lower compared to the female models. However, the market is constantly changing, and in recent years demand for male sex robots has been increasing, such as in Korea and Thailand. Shenzhen Atall also sells child-size AI sex robots, both male and female and the biggest market for them is the US and Canada. EPA-EFE/ALEKSANDAR PLAVEVSKI

AI Sex Robot in China

Shenzhen Atall Intelligent Robot Technology is one of China’s leading companies for robots equipped with artificial intelligence (AI). Among the company’s various AI robot products, its best-selling is an AI sex robot named Emma. The multi-functional machine is linked to the internet and Android operating system and features high stimulation capabilities. Sex robots have soft and elastic skin made of modified thermoplastic elastomers material, with less oil content and no smell. Its temperature adjustment is set to 37º C and the addition of body sensors help make sex robots feel more like a human. But a semblance of authenticity doesn’t come cheap, and Emma’s online retail price is about RMB 20,000 (USD 3,136) with most customers being men aged 40-50.

 

 

 

A shadow is casted from one of the players during a training session in Mandaluyong City, east of Manila, Philippines, 06 May 2018. The Philippines team composed of nine girls is participating in the 2018 Street Child World Cup in Moscow, Russia from 10 to 18 May. The Street Child World Cup is held every four years prior to the FIFA World Cup, with the aim to raise awareness and removing the negative perception of street children around the world. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

Giving Back to the Community
The Philippines Street Child World Cup Team

Head coach Ronalyn and her soccer team were defeated 2-0 by England bringing their Street Child World Cup run to an end. Despite the defeats, their performance and journey to the tournaments are a source of inspiration to young Filipinos looking to escape urban poverty. Ronalyn grew up as a street child roaming Payatas, one of the largest dumpsites and poorest areas of Manila. On one of her scavenger hunts, she stumbled upon a football clinic held by the Fairplay For All Foundation, a non-governmental organization which provides children in Payatas with a safe environment, education, exercise and opportunities to dream big. Over the years Fairplay has grown, developing a school of its own, registering with the Alternative Learning System, and opening a cafe and sports center. The Street Child World Cup is held every four years prior to the FIFA World Cup.

 

 

 

An ethnic Uighur man works in a meat stall in Urumqi city, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Province, China, 16 November 2017. Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority group in China, make up about 40 percent of the 21.8 million people in Xinjiang, a vast, ethnically divided region that borders Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia. Xinjiang has long been subjected to separatists unrests and violent terrorist attacks blamed by authorities on Islamist extremism while human rights groups say Chinese repression on religious rights, culture and freedom of movement caused undue tensions. Life however goes on under the watchful eye of the government for the ethnic Uighurs living in the city of Urumqi and surrounding areas. EPA-EFE/HOW HWEE YOUNG

Uighur Daily Life in Xinjiang

Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim ethnic minority group in China, make up about 40 per cent of the 21.8 million people in Xinjiang, a vast, ethnically divided region that borders Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia. Other ethnic minorities living in the area include the Han Chinese, Kyrgyz, Mongolian and Tajik people. Xinjiang has long been home to separatists unrest and violent terrorist attacks, which Beijing authorities blame on Islamist extremism. Human rights groups, on the other hand, say Chinese repression of religious rights, culture and freedom of movement have caused resentment and raised tensions. Xinjiang and the region is still touted as an attractive tourist spot.

 

 

 

Foreign guests drink during a party at the Mansion in Shanghai, China, early 22 April 2018. Shanghai Mansion, located far from the Shanghai's downtown in a quiet neighborhood with private houses around, is a kind of free hostel during weekdays and a club at weekends. People are surprised when hearing about the Mansion in China as it is more imaginable to spot this kind of places in some of the European cities like Berlin or Amsterdam. The Mansion has become home for many Chinese and foreign people and completely changed lives for some of them. EPA-EFE/ROMAN PILIPEY

Shanghai Mansion

Located in a residential neighborhood far from downtown Shanghai the Mansion serves as a free hostel during weekdays and a club on weekends. It has become a home for both Chinese and foreigners. After living in the Mansion periodically for years - leaving and coming back - Edison, a Chinese resident, gradually discovered his life’s purpose and also met the woman he would marry. “I discovered the freedom here we never had in China” he says. The Mansion draws new residents with its living concept, international character and free accommodation. It is expected that residents follow certain rules and do some jobs around the Mansion like helping out with cleaning or working as a bartender during parties on weekends. If residents want to show off their DJ skills they’re welcome to play during parties. The Mansion is well-known for its techno parties, held on two dance floors.

 

 

 

A gate is secured by a chain as it protects the front door of a house in the lower class area of Brixton, Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 February 2018. Millions of South Africans live behind bars, separated from society and dehumanized by the criminals. The crime wave that has hit the country affects citizens from all walks of life, income groups and areas. Criminals do not discriminate when it comes to choosing their victims. The most feared crime in the country is house break-ins. Thus, 50 percent of households have taken to adding security measures and hiring private security companies to patrol the streets. These companies are now worth 45 billion ZAR (3.7 billion US dollars) per year and employ 490,000 people. By comparison, there are only 195,000 officers in the South African police force. It has become rare in many suburbs of the major cities to see anyone outside their homes and in the streets. Most live behind high walls and bars, separated from each other over this fear caused by crime. In 2016/17, 22,343 house robberies were recorded in South Africa. On average, 61.2 households were robbed each day, according to data from the Africa Check fact-checking organization. The house robbery rate increased from 37.9 per 100,000 people in 2015/16 to 40 in 2016/17. EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK

Living Behind Bars

In the 1980s, I remember having a nice low hedge around our house, and a gate that had no lock on it. Every time we left the house, we locked the front door with a key and happily left the property, knowing nothing would happen. Today, due to an increase in crime in South Africa, I lock the security gate to the front door of the house permanently, have panic buttons in various rooms of the house to be able to contact a security company, and metal spikes on the front wall of the house. Like millions of South Africans I live behind bars. This crime wave that has hit the country affects citizens from all walks of life, income groups and areas. Criminals do not discriminate when it comes to choosing their victims. Living behind these bars to protect ourselves has in effect made us prisoners in our own homes.

 

 

 

A man (R) walks next to a matatu painted with graffiti portraits of musicians as the crew wait for passengers at night in the streets of Nairobi, Kenya, 23 March 2018. The Matatu culture is very big in Kenya, the minibuses are decorated with colorful graffiti inside and outside and most of them are equipped with tv screens, high-speed internet, and power sockets. The word matatu is a Swahili term meaning

Matatu Culture in Kenya

Beloved by the young and elderly alike, the ‘matatu’ minibuses of Kenya are colorful, known for blaring out loud music, and have become more and more extravagant in their design. Matatu is a Swahili term meaning "three," coined in the 1970s when people used to pay three pennies to get from one point to another in the minibuses. But these buses have evolved from being a mere mode of transport to a way of life, spreading from urban hubs to all corners of the East African nation. Matatu touts and drivers are renowned for causing chaos on Nairobi's busy streets, breaking most traffic rules to stay ahead of the competition. President Kenyatta allowed matatu owners to decorate their vehicles, which has led to drastic growth in the industry, opening the floodgates to a wave of creativity as different matatus compete in order to outshine each other.

 

 

 

Tunisian dancer and choreographer Rochdi Belgasmi performs a Tunisian popular dance in the Roman ruins of Carthage in Tunis, Tunisia, 27 March 2018. Belgasmi, 31, has been striving to push Tunisian popular dance into the contemporary art scene for the past seven years, since the Jasmine Revolution in January 2011. His topics of interest are often controversial, and can include eroticism and sexuality in Islam, as well as prostitution, provoking reactions from conservative and religious groups. For the choreographer, body language is key and he aims to spread his values of tolerance and freedom. EPA-EFE/MOHAMED MESSARA

Tunisian Dancer Rochdi Belgasmi

A dancer and choreographer from Tunis has been striving to push Tunisian popular dance, a sometimes controversial style, into the contemporary art scene for the past seven years. Rochdi Belgasmi defines himself as a post-revolutionary artist on account of an uprising that led to the ousting of President Ben Ali in 2011. Belgasmi, who has spent years coming up with his own material and teaching dance, explains that Tunisian popular dance is not viewed well in the Muslim world due to its roots; it was originally based on seduction and sexuality, and had connotations to prostitution and homosexuality. At the start of his career he had to go to court for indecent assault. And during a festival in Carthage, Ennahdha Movement party members covered their eyes so as not to see him perform topless.

 

 

 

Pro-EU campaigner Steven Bray poses for a portrait in London, Britain, 23 November 2017. The end of march 2018 marks a year until Britain formally leaves the European Union, at 11pm on Friday 29 March 2019. Steve Bray from Port Talbot is a pro EU campaigner who stands outside of Parliament every day it is sitting:

A Year Before the UK Leaves the EU

The United Kingdom is set to formally withdraw from the European Union (EU) on 29 March 2019, after the British electorate narrowly voted in favor of parting ways in a referendum held in June 2016, a move that has split public opinion and generated much debate across the country, in Brussels and beyond. To mark the occasion, epa photojournalist Neil Hall interviewed eight people from diverse backgrounds, including EU nationals living in the UK, in a bid to discover how different stakeholders viewed Brexit ahead of the country’s impending withdrawal.

 

 

 

 

Liberian fans watch English Premiere and Spanish Laliga football games shown simultaneously via satellite television at the World Football Cinema, Newkru Town in Monrovia, Liberia, 25 February 2018. It was through satellite television that many young people had the chance to see players showing their skills in the English Premiership, Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga and Italy’s Serie A. The emergence of satellite television services has drawn the top stars from the world of soccer closer to Liberian fans. Attempts by the local soccer governing body to attract fans has proven fruitless, as the invention of satellite has stolen the excitement away from local stadiums, which are stuck with poor quality players. There is a high demand for soccer cinemas facilities in slum communities, as they provide services to low-income earners who do not have access to private satellite television at home. EPA-EFE/AHMED JALLANZO

Soccer Cinemas

At a time when Liberian soccer legend George Weah was hitting the headlines in France, Italy and the UK, the marriage between Liberians and watching European soccer began. Via satellite television services, many young people had the chance to see Weah show off his skills among soccer’s best players in the Europe's premier leagues. Many went to watch these soccer matches in the Monrovia slum community of Clara Town, where Weah was abandoned by his mother as a baby. There is a high demand for soccer cinema facilities in slum communities, as they provide services to low-income earners who do not have access to private satellite television. Due to a lack of a regular electricity supply, cinema owners run generators to screen the games live, though without air conditioning.

 

 

 

Japanese women sit in zazen meditation during a body and mind healing workshop at a Buddhist temple in Kiyama city, Saga prefecture, Japan, 01 March 2018. Due to the heavy work stress and stagnant incomes, many Japanese single women are turning to religious and spiritual activities for comfort, according to Japanese scholar Hiromi Shimada. It was further reported that 40 per cent of eligible young women are not interested in love relationships. EPA-EFE/EVERETT KENNEDY BROWN

Buddhist Health Retreat for Women

Many single women in Japan say they cannot find a man suitable to live with, and so a growing number of single women are turning to religious and spiritual activities for comfort and friendships. About 40 percent of single Japanese women are not interested in romantic relationships with men, according to a survey. For many of them, this is due to lots of stress at work and stagnant incomes, according to scholar Hiromi Shimada. During a two-day healing retreat, the women experience the Buddhist traditions of etching religious images, eating vegetarian meals, and experiencing various forms of meditation. aromatherapy and yoga courses are also held to refresh the body and spirit. Many of the participants establish a new network of like-minded female friends and made plans for future gatherings together.

 

 

 

Local Alex township resident and yoga teacher, Bongekile Nguza, stands in 'tree pose' on a bench in the street in Alex township in Johannesburg, South Africa, 08 November 2017. Bongekile is one of five new local African yoga teachers who are being taught by the NGO, Yoga4Alex, that is bringing the ancient India spiritual practice of Kundalini Yoga to the school children of this impoverished area of the city. The results of the yoga on the children of Alex has been hugely beneficial was the children are calmed and centered after yoga and it helps them to deal with the hard life many of them live in the area which has high unemployment and poverty. Alexandra township or 'Alex' as it is known to dwellers in the urban living area - is one of the main townships on the edges of the capital and was built in the early 1900s to house non-white residents. EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK

Yoga Brings Hope to the Township

In one of Johannesburg's toughest townships the ancient spiritual practice of yoga is bringing peace and calmness to some of the thousands of children and teenagers brought up in an environment of crushing poverty, crime and post-Apartheid social imbalance. Yoga4Alex, founded by Marianne Felix, is an NGO that has taught local Alex township residents the Kundalini Yoga style and these pioneers have brought the healing nature of yoga to various schools in the township. Kundalini, also called ‘the yoga of awareness’, aims ‘to cultivate the creative spiritual potential of a human to uphold values, speak truth, and focus on the compassion and consciousness needed to serve and heal others’.

 

 

 

Romanian boy Robert 'Roby' Cristescu, aged 9, of the Valencia Academy Romania stretches for a ball during the soccer match Valencia Academy Romania vs Concordia Chiajna, for the 'Bucharest Indoor Cup 2017', 2009 group age, held at the inflatable soccer dome 'Pro Sport Arena' in Bucharest, Romania, 26 November 2017. The Valencia Academy Romania is a Spanish-Romanian project created with the intention of discovering and promoting talented children in Romania, with the support of the famed Spanish soccer club Valencia CF. The project's operating base is located in Bucharest. The Valencia Academy Romania-2009 team finished first out of 13 participating teams at the 'Bucharest Indoor Cup 2017' soccer tournament, winning the 2017 trophy at their age category (2009). Roby took the Best Central Midfield Prize at the end of the tournament. EPA-EFE/ROBERT GHEMENT

Spanish Soccer Academy in Romania

Young soccer fans are crazy about players like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. With this in mind, Romanian and Spanish soccer specialists came up with an idea that would allow young players the chance to follow in the footsteps of their favorite players. Thus, with the support of the management of famed Spanish soccer club Valencia CF, the Valencia Soccer Academy was born. Based in the Romanian capital of Bucharest, the project aims to discover and promote new talent among Romania’s soccer-playing youths. The academy tries to shape not only the children's sporting skills but also their attitudes. The staff encourages the players to improve their athletic abilities, but also place an emphasis on the childrens' results at school and behavior off the pitch.

 

 

 

A Thai smokes a marijuana joint at a house in Bangkok, Thailand, 20 January 2018. According to various of international medical researches found marijuana can be used to alleviate the painful and treat the symptoms of several ailments especially cancer. Doctors and medical experts around the world are now recognized cannabis for medical use to treat many types of cancer, parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, muscle weakness, multiple sclerosis, a demyelinating disease and diabetes. EPA-EFE/RUNGROJ YONGRIT

Medical Cannabis

Thailand is looking at the next steps to become a medical marijuana hub in the region. Legislators, state officials, health experts, drug and narcotic enforcement agencies as well as National Farmers Council voiced support to decriminalize soft drugs such as marijuana by legalizing marijuana cultivation plantations for medical research and medicinal use. The Food and Drug Administration of the Public Health Ministry opposes the idea, saying more debate is needed. Under existing Thai law, marijuana is illegal to consume or possess for any reason. The Thai government recently approved a five-year pilot project to commercially grow hemp for medicinal use. Hemp is a variety from the same species as marijuana but not for smoking. In Thai hemp is called kanchong.

 

 

 

Malaysian teenager Harith Haziq, 13, (L) leans on a barricade with other competitors to watch a demonstration motorcycling ride by professional racer Zulfahmi Khairuddin, project leader and mentor in the Dream Towards the MotoGP (Impian ke MotoGP) program at Sepang International Circuit, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 14 January 2018. (issued 29 January) The program picks the most talented young riders for professional training, and while they are way too young to hold a legal license, they are allowed to race on track and pull the throttle to reach speeds of up to 212 km per hour. Some 300 young riders aged from 13 to 15 years old will be in the program for at least three years, with the hope they grow into Malaysian champions in the CEV, Moto3, Moto2 and even MotoGP. EPA-EFE/AHMAD YUSNI

Dream to Speed

A group of Malaysian boys who love speed and competition are pursuing their dreams to become the world's best motorcycle riders. They are way too young to hold a legal license, but they are allowed to race on a track and pull the throttle to reach speeds of up to 212 km per hour. The pilot program Dream Towards the MotoGP nurturing them into a future of speed, organized by the Sepang International Circuit (SIC), was launched in late 2017. It has attracted some 300 young riders aged from 13 to 15 years old who are taught all aspects of MotoGP training under the supervision of project leader and mentor Zulfahmi Khairuddin, a world-class motorcycle race veteran.

 

 

 

A man takes picture from window as a camel paredes the streets during the most beautiful Camel Competition as a part of the Selcuk-Efes Camel Wrestling Festival in the town of Selcuk, near the western coastal city of Izmir, Turkey, 20 January 2018. The event, which celebrated its 36th anniversary, put together two bull (male) camels with a female camel on heat nearby. The camels fought it out for the female, leaning on each other to push the other one down. The sport is most common in the Aegean region of Turkey, but is also found in the Marmara and Mediterranean regions of the country. EPA-EFE/ERDEM SAHIN

Camel Wrestling Festival

Camel wrestling history backs to the early 19th century. That dates the load carrying camels played with each other while resting. The camel owners who saw this situation began to organize wrestling around Aegean cities. Camel wrestling is especially associated with the Nomad culture, which is held in the Aegean, Mediterranean and Marmara regions. Camel wrestling is held in the winter months and the winner camel owner is rewarded with a carpet. Various preparations are made before wrestling. Then, a female camel is brought into the area to provide envy and mutual jealousy to each other. If a camel escapes or fell, wrestling ends.

 

 

 

A woman vomits during an act of exorcism in Jecheon, South Korea, 04 June 2017. Acts of exorcism are openly performed by shamans. According to the media, around 550,000 people are estimated to work in the Korean shamanism and fortune-telling related businesses such as tarot card readers, palm readers, Saju (fortune-telling) experts and professional psychics, including Mudang (the Korean traditional shaman-priest.) The Mudang’s ritual is called 'Gut' in which a shaman appeases and exorcises the gods and ghosts through a performance such as singing and dancing. Clients pay shamans to perform 'Guts' in order to fulfill their spiritual or mundane needs. The shamanism and fortune-telling market is amounting to up to 3.5 billion US dollar in a year. EPA-EFE/HAYOUNG JEON

Mudang and Korean Shamanism

The religious situation in Korea is of a multi-religious society despite being composed of a mostly homogenous population. Moreover, the religions coexist mutually and in peace. Given the relationship between religion and Korean society, culture, and history, the religious realm serves as a window or path for understanding Korea. The fact that more than half of all cultural assets and relics are related to religion proves this fact. If we ignore the religious realm, it is impossible to deeply understand modern Korea. It is necessary to have an active interest in the religious sphere in countries that are seeking religious segregation though. In modern countries, religion is an important cultural capital. Thus, this photo essay is focused on the Korean indigenous religion which has a history of more than 5,000 years.

 

 

 

Cinema owner Maurice Laroche prepares film reels in the projection room of 'Le Beverley', the French capital's last porn movie theater, in Paris, France, 24 January 2018. In a tiny alley of the Grands Boulevards in the heart of Paris' entertainment district, 'Le Beverley' has been proudly displaying its pink neon tubes since 1975. It will also drop its final curtain and close its doors in March 2018. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

Le Beverley, The Last Porn Cinema in Paris
to Close Its Doors

In a tiny alley in the heart of Paris' entertainment district, the city's last porn movie theater has been proudly displaying its pink neon tubes since 1975. Its projection room, posters, seats, and cash register are all originals from the 70s. A few years ago, “Le Beverley” was just one of many others in the neighborhood, but now, at a time of fierce competition from easy-to-access pornography available for free on the web, they have all closed down, one by one. And while the cinema’s 74-year-old owner Maurice Laroche is holding out for a few last showings, Le Beverley will also drop its final curtain and close its doors in March 2018.

 

 

 

Kritchaya 'Lolita' Boonhor experiences a nervous breakdown after shower due to the effect of hormonal changes, in Bangkok, Thailand, 29 November 2017. Most things in life are a question of negotiation. Lolita is a woman, that was not to be negotiated. What needed to be negotiated was how she was perceived by those around her. And that negotiation was one that took time and effort. EPA-EFE/LOLA LEVAN

Kritchaya 'Lolita' Boonhor Is Finally A Woman

Lolita is a woman, that was not to be negotiated. What needed to be negotiated was how she was perceived by those around her. First there were family and friends who mocked her for not being a typical male. Her father enrolled her in boarding school to make her the army man he thought she should have been. School turned out the gateway to a different kind of abuse. She got raped by seniors in 8th grade. The second bit of negotiation she faced was with health as she began taking female hormones in hope of developing a more feminine appearance. But heavy hormone intake takes a massive toll on mood and general wellbeing. The only option was sex reassignment surgery. In February 2017 she became a woman trading a useless part of herself for a chance to a life that fits her.

 

 

 

An Indian man is surrounded by polluted froth and toxic foam as he takes a holy bath as part of a Hindu ritual at the polluted Yamuna river in New Delhi, India, 24 October 2017. The Yamuna River, like all other holy rivers in India, has been massively polluted for decades now. The river that originates in a glacier in the pristine and unpolluted Himalayas, and flows through Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh before merging with the Ganges River in Allahabad, once used to be the lifeline of the Indian capital. Currently, it is no more than a large, open sewer that is choking with industrial and domestic discharge that includes plastic, flowers and debris and has virtually no aquatic life. EPA-EFE/HARISH TYAGI

The Polluted Yamuna River in New Delhi

The Yamuna River, like all other holy rivers in India, has been massively polluted for decades now. The river that originates in a glacier in the pristine and unpolluted Himalayas, and flows through Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh before merging with the Ganges River in Allahabad, once used to be the lifeline of the Indian capital. Currently, it is no more than a large, open sewer that is choking with industrial and domestic discharge that includes plastic, flowers and debris from an annual Hindu festival, Durga Puja, during which hundreds of idols are immersed in the river. The river has virtually no aquatic life thanks to over 20 drains that pour untreated sewage and other waste into its waters. Dumping of solid waste and garbage is also a major problem for the beleaguered river.